How To Shine Like Lights In The World
Scripture: Philippians 2:14-18
I have a friend who once took his son to some caves in the next state over. These caves were famous as a tourist attraction. After packing up and taking his family a couple of hours away, he took them on a guided tour of the cave. When they made it halfway through one of the larger caves, the tour guide made them shut off all lights. Then they sat there in complete darkness. It seemed like an eternity, but it was actually only about a minute. Then, tour guide pulled out a lighter and lit it. That one small light seemed to illuminate the entire cave. A few seconds later everyone turned whatever lights they had back on, and the cave was illuminated again. Why is this story significant? Because as Christians, we live in a dark world. In the same way that my friend could not see anything at all in the cave, so is there no light to see in the world unless we, as Christians, are that light. The world will not be that light. They cannot be. It is up to us.
In the passage in front of us today, the apostle Paul gives us five major ways in which we can be lights in the world. We were not intended to only have one of these. Rather, we are expected to utilize all five of these ways in order to shine like lights in a dark, dark world. So what are these five ways? First, Paul commands his readers to do all things without murmuring or arguing (v. 14). We are not to be quarrelsome or looking for a fight. We are not to be complainers. Rather than complaining, we are to be full of joy. When we quarrel and murmur, we do not bring glory and honor to Christ. Rather, we dishonor him when we do such things. Christ himself, although he faced more difficulty than we ever will, did not murmur or grumble, but humbly accepted what was given to him in a way that glorified the Father. We should do this, as well.
Second, we are to live blamelessly in all things (v. 15). If we want to shine like lights in the world, it is important that we live a life that reflects the character of Christ. You cannot be a light in the world if you are living like those in darkness. A person who believes in Christ but commits adultery is not being a light in the world. Such a person is adding to the darkness of the world.
Third, we are to hold fast to the word of life (v. 16). What has been handed on to us we should never let go of. If we hold fast to the word of life, then those who have spent so much time investing in our growth in the faith will not lose what they have invested in. Rather, we will grow, and as we grow we will shine brighter and brighter, dispelling the darkness all around us.
Fourth, we are to follow the example of Paul (v. 17). Paul writes that he is being poured out like a drink offering. That is, Paul was offering everything that he had to Christ, and as a result he was bearing fruit for the Gospel. If we are to shine like lights in the world, we need to give our all to Christ. A lightbulb that is not connected to its socket cannot light up a room, so why should we expect to shine like lights in the world if we are not connected to Christ?
Fifth, we should rejoice (v. 18). Nothing turns people away from Christ like Christians who act like they haven't received the greatest gift to ever be given. We should rejoice always, just as Paul elsewhere commands.
With these five things in mind, the natural question to ask next is this: Are you shining like lights in the world, or are you letting darkness fill everything around you?